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COVID Blog: Virginia AG wins stay on 25,000-person 'superspreader event'

A judge agreed with Virginia AG Mark Herring on Thursday to block the Nation's Gun Show from operating at full capacity.

WASHINGTON — It’s Thursday, November 19, and in Virginia, the commonwealth’s attorney general has succeeded in a last-minute effort to stop a 25,000-person gun show in Chantilly he warned could become a “superspreader event.”

The Nation’s Gun Show was slated to begin Friday in Chantilly and run through Monday. It comes as Virginia on Thursday saw its fourth consecutive day setting a new all-time high for average daily cases – more than 1,800 new cases a day now. The event would be 1,000x larger than the current cap of 250 people allowed in event spaces. You can read more about the lawsuit to make the Nation’s Gun Show happen, and the efforts to stop it, here.

On Thursday afternoon, a Virginia judge agreed with Attorney General Mark Herring, saying the gun show posed the risk of "an unprecedented superspreader event infecting not only those persons but third parties."

Also new on Thursday: the Centers for Disease Control put out updated guidance on Thanksgiving travel. In a word: Don't.

In case you’re in a hurry and just looking for the numbers, here’s how things look today:

  • D.C. – The city reported 213 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday – the second time in three days the city reported more than 200 cases in a single day. D.C. is now averaging more than 160 new cases a day, which is just 13% below its all-time high.
  • Maryland –The state set a new single-day high of 2,910 cases on Thursday – surpassing the record set on Monday by more than 180 cases. Thursday also marks a new record high for the state’s seven-day average, which has now surpassed 2,000 cases for the first time.
  • Virginia – For the fourth day in a row, Virginia set a new all-time high case average. The commonwealth is now averaging more than 1,800 new cases of the coronavirus a day. Also Thursday, Virginia reported 36 new deaths from the virus – bringing its seven-day average up to 20 deaths a day for the first time in a month.

How are things going in the DMV?

Maryland has been getting the worst of the pandemic lately in the DMV, and that hasn’t changed.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced a sweeping set of new restrictions on hospitals, nursing homes, bars, restaurants and other businesses in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. You can read more about those here.

RELATED: ‘This is the worst calamity to befall retail and restaurants’ | MD restaurant owner fears for future after further restrictions placed on restaurants

I spoke with Maryland Hospital Association President & CEO Bob Atlas Thursday morning about how the states hospitals are responding to Hogan’s latest set of restrictions.

Atlas said hospitals – at least 19 of which are either at or nearing capacity, according to Hogan on Tuesday – are working to find the extra staff they need to handle the increase in cases. But, Atlas said, whereas earlier in the year Maryland was able to draw health care workers from other states where the pandemic wasn’t as bad, now “the crisis is nationwide.”

“The pressure is definitely there. It’s being felt,” Atlas said. “Nobody is panicking, but the concerns are very real – especially for the front-line workers who have to deal with all the patients, no matter what condition they’re in.”

In brighter news, Atlas said Eli Lilly’s neutralizing antibody bamlanivimab, which was approved by the FDA for emergency use last week, is beginning to arrive at four distribution sites around the state. The drug will then be parceled out to individual hospitals for the most high-risk patients.

The state is also trying to get ahead of the game in preparation for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. This week, Maryland confirmed that it had purchased five ultra-cold freezers to store vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine, which, along with one being developed by Moderna, is one of the most promising trials right now, requires storage at extreme cold temperatures.

A final thought from Bob

Atlas asked me to make sure I included something in my story, which I’m happy to oblige. Here it is in his words.

“I’m going to say something that sounds like it’s been said a million times before, because it has: This will all stop being a crisis for our health care facilities if people will stay away from each other and wear masks when they’re close,” Atlas said. “It works. And COVID fatigue isn’t an excuse to give up.”

So, listen to Bob and wear your mask.